Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2021. Pinehurst might be known as the Home of American Golf, but there is so much more to this Sandhills town
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2021.
Pinehurst might be known as the Home of American Golf, but there is so much more to this Sandhills town — and neighboring Southern Pines, Aberdeen, and Carthage — than fairways. Cozy up in a beautiful hotel or inn, stroll along the village’s charming brick sidewalks past storybook-perfect shops and restaurants, and dine on creative cuisine. Then settle into an Adirondack chair overlooking the greens and raise a cocktail to a perfect weekend. Ready for your itinerary? Let’s go!
Check into your hotel to kick off your weekend. The Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst is among the most iconic lodging options in the Sandhills. Built in 1901, the flagship hotel’s hallways are lined with photos depicting its storied history. The Manor, The Magnolia Inn, and Pine Crest Inn, all located in the Village of Pinehurst and steps away from shopping and restaurants, also offer boutique lodging experiences and tons of historic charm.
Once you’re settled in, spend the afternoon exploring the charming Village of Pinehurst. Originally built in 1895 as a resort for those with consumption (tuberculosis), it fast became a popular vacation spot.
Frederick Law Olmstead, the landscape architect behind iconic spaces like Central Park and the grounds of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, designed the quaint New England-style village.
“The village looks very much like it did when it was first built,” says Audrey Moriarty, executive director of the Tufts Archives. “There are a lot of interesting stories about the houses and the people who lived here.”
Pick up the Historic Walking Tour book at the Tufts Archives and then follow the map on foot to explore 58 historic buildings throughout the village — or kick up your feet and hire a horse-drawn carriage for a guided tour that feels like a step back in time.
When you’re ready to unwind with a pre-dinner drink, head over to happy hour hot spot Drum and Quill Public House, a storied tavern with an extensive spirits list whose bar is housed in a 130-year-old magistrate judge’s chamber. On Friday nights, local musicians take the stage to kick off the weekend with live music. And, of course, there’s a golf connection in the pub’s name: the owner’s father, Bob Drum, was a famous golf writer who wielded a “quill.”
For a true taste of Pinehurst, get a table at Elliotts on Linden for dinner. Chef and owner Mark Elliott, a self-described “classically-trained French chef who loves Southern food,” is a farm-to-table pioneer who partners with local producers to source ingredients for dishes like duck egg poutine, crab hush puppies, and stuffed chicken and waffles.
A nightcap at Pinehurst Brewing Company is the perfect way to end the first day of your getaway. With 10 beers on tap and a menu that features sharable appetizers like beer cheese and smoked chicken wings, it dominates the late-night scene in Pinehurst.
“The brewery is located in the original steam plant building that powered the village in 1895,” says Alex Podlogar, the senior media relations manager for Pinehurst Resort. “[Since it opened in 2018] it has been reenergizing the village in a new way.”
After a restful night, set your GPS for downtown Southern Pines and fuel up for a day of exploring. Order a specialty brew (complete with latte art) at Swank Coffee Shoppe and Handmade Market and then join the queue for breakfast at Betsy’s Crepes. It’s worth the wait for sweet and savory crepes, waffles, eggs, and breakfast sandwiches.
After your caffeine fix, take a stroll down Broad Street, where historic buildings house a delightful collection of shops like Mockingbird on Broad, R. Riveter, and Against the Grain, as well as a museum housed in an 1898 train depot (that still serves as an Amtrak station).
Treat yourself to lunch at one of Southern Pines’ downtown restaurants, like Sweet Basil, Bell Tree Tavern, or Chapman’s. Then get a little pampering in: Donna Lane Day Spa offers treatments to help ease you into vacation mode. Hello, relaxation.
And it wouldn’t be a true Home of American Golf experience without playing a round of golf — but you don’t need to play like a pro to get on the greens. At Pinehurst Resort, test out your skills at Thistle Dhu, an 18-hole putting course, or practice at The Cradle, a par 3, nine-hole short course that attracts both amateurs and scratch golfers.
“Beginners, experts, kids and non-golfers all enjoy playing The Cradle and Thistle Dhu,” says Tom Pashley, president at Pinehurst Resort. “Both courses are big on fun and low on intimidation.”
Bottlebrush, the six-hole short course at Longleaf Golf & Family Club is another family friendly option. Eager to play a full round? There are 38 golf courses within a 15-mile radius. Book a tee time at Talamore Golf Resort, Legacy Golf Links, Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, or Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club.
After a round of golf, order a round of drinks at The Cradle Crossing, a bar near The Cradle. Golf magazine voted the Transfusion, a cocktail made with vodka, grape juice, and lime, one of the best golf drinks served at high-end resorts. With a glass in hand, relax in one of the Adirondack chairs and watch the sun go down over the greens.
A day full of activities works up an appetite. Treat yourself to a steak dinner at Ironwood or traditional Italian fare like pasta carbonara, lasagna al forno and osso buco at Villaggio Ristorante at the Magnolia Inn. Or head over to Aberdeen, where Mason’s Restaurant and Grocery and The Workshop Tavern are local favorites.
After dinner, head to veteran-owned Railhouse Brewery and ask the bartender to pull a pint of Pineland Pale Ale or Mastiff Oatmeal Stout.
On the last day of your getaway, sleep late before grabbing brunch at Mid Pines Inn, where you’ll enjoy a buffet overlooking the 18th green. Then work off the waffles with a stroll through the grounds at the Weymouth Center. The former home of poet and author James Boyd has become a centerpiece of Southern literary culture and the grounds are just as lovely as the estate.
“The gardens are popular as a place of beauty and serenity and they are historically important, too,” says Weymouth Center spokesperson Marianne Grasso.
Follow the path between two flowerbeds filled with colorful bulbs, perennials, and annuals to two reflecting pools where water lilies and tropical lotuses float on the surface; the gardens also contain an impressive collection of azaleas, weeping Japanese cherries, rhododendrons, and long leaf pines that provide seasonal color and interest.
And just outside of town, Reservoir Park is another popular spot for recreation. Marie Senkbeil of Southern Pines Recreation and Parks recommends following the two-mile David R. White trail around the reservoir, walking on the bridge that extends into the water or stopping on the pier to take in the views.
For an even more peaceful walk, try the Whitehall Trail. “It’s a quiet walk through the woods,” Senkbeil says.
Before heading home, take a driving tour of downtown Carthage, where local artist Scott Nurkin painted three murals as part of a fledgling mural trail. Order lunch at the world-famous Pik n Pig where you can talk about your favorite places in Pinehurst and Southern Pines over ribs, smoked chicken, and traditional barbecue — and start making plans for your next trip.